Summary: The reality is that we will all be tempted. The good news is that we have remedies that can help us overcome temptation.
A. How many of you have enjoyed reading the comic strip “Cathy” over the years?
1. “Cathy” is a comic strip drawn by Cathy Guisewite.
2. It features a woman who struggles through the "four basic guilt groups" of life — food, love, mom, and work — the strip gently pokes fun at the lives and foibles of modern women.
3. One of the strips did a good job of illustrating temptation and how it leads to sin.
4. One day Cathy was struggling with her diet.
a. Frame 1 showed her saying to herself, “I will take a drive, but won’t go near the grocery store.”
b. Frame 2: “I will drive by the grocery store, but will not go in.”
c. Frame 3: Then she said, “I will go in the grocery store, but will not walk down the aisle where the candy is on sale.”
d. Frame 4: “I will look at the candy, but not pick it up.”
e. Frame 5: “I will pick it up, but not buy it.”
f. Frame 6: “I will buy it, but not open it.”
g. Frame 7: “I will open it, but not smell it.”
h. Frame 8: “I will smell it, but not taste it.”
i. Frame 9: “I will taste it, but not eat it.”
j. Frame 10: “Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat!”
B. Does that resemble your experience with temptation? It sure does mine!
C. The transforming truth that I want us to be encouraged by today is the truth that we can overcome temptation.
1. Do you know that is true? Do you believe that that is true?
2. I’m here to tell you that God wants us to know and believe that that is true – We can overcome temptation.
3. Let’s spend a few moments talking about the reality of temptation, and then the remedy for temptation.
4. Hopefully we can leave this place more determined and more prepared to win the battle against temptation.
D. Look again at a few verses from our Scripture reading from 1 Corinthians 10.
1. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor. 10:11-13)
I. The Reality of Temptation
A. When James wrote his letter and addressed the issue of temptation, he said, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”(James 1:13-15)
1. I like the way James addressed the subject so directly and in such a matter of fact way.
2. These are not wistful thoughts from a preacher’s study, but these are the painful, difficult realities of life.
3. Temptation strikes us all.
4. It affects us at school, in the workplace and in the home.
5. It affects parents as well as children, and leaders as well as followers.
B. James leaves no question that temptation’s assault will come.
1. Notice that James says, “When tempted…” not “If tempted.”
2. Just like death and taxes, trials and temptations are inevitable in this life.
3. We will never be without temptation. Never.
4. We are certainly in for a big surprise if we think that when we become a Christian all our old struggles and temptations will be automatically and instantly be left behind.
5. The Christian life is a life of conflict. We are in a spiritual battle.
6. There are opposing forces constantly trying to draw us away from God.
7. Even though people around us may not appear to be doing so, everyone is wrestling with temptation just like you and me. Temptation plays no favorites.
C. Here’s an important thing to keep in mind - Temptation itself is not a sin.
1. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus himself was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”
2. Temptation is simply the invitation to sin. We sin when we decide to accept the invitation.
3. Jesus was invited to sin, just as we are, but Jesus always refused the invitation.
4. So, first of all we need to realize that Temptation is INEVITABLE. It is the reality we must face.